One pleasure of living in rural California is driving on roads unencumbered by traffic signals.
Here in Calaveras County we have 867.5 miles of roads and highways and I can count the traffic signals on one hand: Four. Of course, there’s always talk of adding more.
Except for the state highways crisscrossing our county – 4, 12, 26 and 49 – the roads are narrow and winding, following the lay of the land. Fields of grazing cows or sheep or goats line many of our foothill roads, while
forests and rivers rim our mountain roads.
In the spring, wildflowers crowd close to the pavement, spilling down the hillsides or bursting out of the roadside fields.
In the fall, although the green grass and wildflowers are gone, the evening light burnishes hillside gold. And the clouds are spectacular.
I get such a feeling of freedom when I pull out of our driveway, knowing I can just drive and drive and drive. Sometimes in the morning, I open the windows so I can smell the beautiful air, and I swear I feel like a bird just sailing along.
Obviously there’s a downside to country roads. You can’t go very fast on them. No 65 mph here. And if you’re unlucky enough to get behind a slow truck, you’re likely stuck there because two-lanes of winding dip-and-rise do not allow for passing safely.
In the early morning and early evening, you need to be watchful for deer and other critters. Almost everyone I know has hit a deer.
And there’s the dust. Our many dirt and gravel roads paint vehicles in what looks like a permanent coat of dust.
Nonetheless, I love country roads. Love the way they lie like black ribbons over the hills and dales. Love the slower speed of driving, and the fact that I almost never have to stop for a red light. Love the stunning beauty of the mountain roads, and the picture perfect fields of horses and cows along the foothill roads.
I find driving the rural roads around here a spiritual experience. One that makes me say, "Thank You" and mean it.